Chocolate seizing when adding sour cream

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I was following a recipe that suggested to melt dark chocolate (70% cocoa) in a bain marie then add a couple of teaspoons sour cream. Problem is, when I add the sour cream, the chocolate immediately seizes, becomes a big sad grainy mass, loses its smooth shine etc...

- Why does this happen?

- How can I prevent it from happening next time?

- What can I do with the salvaged seized chocolate?

THANKS!
 
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Thanks Ed. That's what I thought as I'd read somewhere (can't remember where) that a single drop of water in melted chocolate could seize the chocolate.

What I don't understand is - how are you supposed to mix chocolate with butter (which contains water), or milk, or cream, if those are going to make it seize?
 

kcz

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I've had the same problem with a chocolate mousse recipe...when I add a couple tbsp of heavy cream to the melted chocolate, it seizes. Then when I stir in the rest of the cream, it somehow remelts and is fine. If someone could explain this, I'd appreciate it.
 
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I remember seeing this on good eats once. Adding more cream will make is soft again, but it wont resolidify when cooled. It'll be a perm syrup, which has it's own uses. I'm not sure what to suggest to you to keep it from seizing though. The only suggestion I can think of would be to use the heaviest sour cream available -> more fat, less H2O.

Edit: Oh just thought of one more suggestion. Have you tried adding the sour cream before you melt it, and then melt is very very slowly?
 
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Have you tried adding more sour cream? Yes one drop of water can seize a whole pan of chocolate but if you add more water it will loosen back up.
 
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No, I have to say when I saw it take that texture I thought it was ruined and I just started over with new chocolate. I kept the seized one though so maybe I'll try to use it again... thanks for the tips!
 
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The great thing about owning lots of food science books is that you can both investigate various properties of food to solve problems and you get to look like a smartypants in front of one's peers.

Most of the chocolate we get these days is an emulsion of the cocoa solids (among various other solids like sugar, etc.) and fat (generally the cocoa butter). Most of these solids do not prefer to mix with water than fats, so when you add a little bit of water and stir it these particles of cocoa solids and other stuff will be hydrated, like wet sand; capillary attraction keeps the solids together and in a clump. Given enough water the solids will disperse sort of evenly in the water, though you usually need to be careful aabout maintaining an emulsion if you're making a really thin ganache.
 
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Thanks Blueicus.

This eXACTLY what I needed to know. This makes a lot of sense. And the sand clumping example is a beautiful picture. So thank you and thanks Harold Mc Gee or whoever else's book it was and that I should have bought and read already. :)

Now not only can I salvage my chocolate, not only do I feel empowered by the understanding of what's going on, but I, too, can have the luxury of looking like a smarty pants next time that happens and I explain to the people around why/how/etc... hahaha....

OK I shall try to disolve my big clump in more water/cream or whatnot and see how that works. Need to buy more pears and more vanilla ice cream now. :peace:
 

kcz

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Thank you all. That's exactly what I see happening with my mousse recipe but I never knew why.
 
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Ohhhh Chocolate, the baine of all pastry chefs existence... When we look at chocolate it is hard to believe how dry this runny liquid is... thus is the reactional reason of seizing that we have all witnessed from time to time.


Keep adding liquid or oil! and that can be any liquid or oil (sour cream is coagulated liquid)... even water (why would you do that ? or alcohol.. the easiest balance is equal portions of liquid to chocolate (42 percent chocolate that is) now that there is 70 -80 percent chocolates more readily available you have to remember that they have almost twice the "dryness" as a 40- 45 percent chocolate. therefore requiring almost twice the liquid to make a fluid consistency


never throw chocolate out.... if you put chocolate in the garbage can you are showing that you have no clue... it can be melted time and time again... there is usually a fix for all problems with chocolate...
 
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I don't think anyone mentioned to have both the chocolate and cream at the same temp. Preferably very warm. Start with very warm heavy cream, stir into the very warm chocolate, then add your sour cream. Always stir gently and always in the same direction to prevent air incorporation.
* agree with OP, never throw chocolate out. You can fix it or chop and use in cookies, other candy, eat out of hand.. you get the idea.
 
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Melt the chocolate in the liquid, rather than adding the liquid to melted chocolate. No seize.

It means knowing what you're going to do in advance of doing it, but there you go. Chocolate's like that.

BDL
 
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Great - thanks for the tips. And no, I did NOT throw it out. That way I'll be able to remelt it and use it for something else.
 
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FF mon ami -- Yes, save it. BUT, it will have lost its shine and can never get it back. So, plan its reuse accordingly.

BDL
 
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Coupla things about chocolate...

1) It contains NO WATER. Think about it, the cooca beans are shipped at around 12% m.c. after roasting they're around 1% and after conching, less than half of one percent.

2) Since it has no water, and since sugar can't dissolve in fat, the sugar is never dissolved. The "good" chocolates have the sugar very finely milled, the cheaper ones not so finely milled--your tongue will telll you....

Now, for instance I make a lot of brownies. I melt the butter and chocolate together--same for a chocoalte mousse. Never any danger of siezing up if you melt the choc. with a fat.

I prefer to melt in the microwave. By all means use a double boiler, but make sure the water never boils. If the water boils, you'll get steam, and as the steam condenses back into water, it'll fall back into the bowl and sieze up the chocolate.

Siezed up choc. can always be chopped up and used for brownies, cake, etc. It's not "bad" per say---perfectly edible and enjoyable--but you can never use it again for any chocoalte work--only baking
 
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